NOTE: THIS RESTAURANT WILL CLOSE IN AUGUST 2010 AND RE-OPEN AS VINCENT IN SEPTEMBER.
You haven't been to Paris unless you've dined at a crowded, smoky, cheap bistro frequented by locals. In another lifetime, I came across a real gem in the St. Germain district. Beyond the simple and delicious steak frites and red wine, the scene was a real kick. Parisians eating, smoking, drinking, and talking with carefree abandon – as full of life and French soul as a Modigliani painting.
Andersonville's La Tache, newly designed with a bistro and bar and lower prices to accommodate a new economy, reminds me of my Paris bistro. Owner Lynn Malec may not have touched down on French soil, but the woman sure has a knack for imitation. Deep blue walls, bright orange vintage French paintings, and elegant little tables with white tablecloths whisper Paris at every turn.
The menu at La Tache satisfies a hungry, price-conscious crowd. Monday's prix fixe menu ($20) offers mussels and oysters to start, and beloved steak frites as a main course. Gnocchi (12.95) has gruyere (how wise) and the filet mignon ($23.95) comes with Brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes in oh-so-European fashion.
The martini bar with accompanying French pub menu offers the chance to talk, not yell, over drinks. Items like Lyonnaise salad ($8) and the La Tache burger ($12.95) – a 10 oz. black angus chuck patty with melted gruyere and smoked bacon on a brioche bun – offer happy refuge from trendy (read: boring) urban fare.
A completely French wine list makes me sigh with relief and think yes, everything is going to be OK.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Marla Seidell